I’m not sure why I didn’t keep my backpack from college. It was a red Jansport with lots of pockets and a mesh water bottle holder on one side. (If you’ve ever had to walk a college campus in Florida when it’s hot you know how important it is to always have a bottle of water with you.) It was a great backpack, but for some reason it didn’t make the transition to grad school with me. When I went to UCLA I bought a cheap Eastpak backpack from Target (I think.) It was the most utilitarian choice (i.e., extremely boring), but it served its purpose. Since then it’s the only backpack I’ve owned, although it’s been mostly sitting neglected in the back of my closet for the last ten years. But when I went to Hawaii in June and had a little trouble with luggage capacity (you have to be fully prepared when you go on a tropical vacation) I discovered that the ol’ Eastpak was more versatile than I expected. It’s just the right size to hold my laptop, a pair of sneakers, snacks, and all of the other essential carry on items. For years I’d been using a shoulder bag as a carry on when I traveled, but I loved how a backpack freed up my hands for the inevitable (and potentially unnecessary) magazine and soda purchases before hopping a flight. I also used my Eastpak to great effect in Alaska last month. Denali National Park doesn’t have any services past the visitor’s center so we were required to carry all of our food, water, rain gear, etc. on the 8-12 hour bus tours into the park. To my delight my old backpack was much more comfortable than I remember from my grad school days and worked remarkably well carrying a day’s worth of supplies. But after the recent discovery of holes in the bottom of the Eastpak I realized that it was time to retire and replace my trusty thirteen year old backpack. Luckily “back to school” made this really easy. Not only were there bags for sale everywhere I turned, but the prices kept dropping as the summer was drawing to a close. (And by “summer” I just mean the period of time when kids are out of school. The hottest temperatures of the year settled in here a while back and they’re going to stick around for another month or two, much to my chagrin. It was 97 deg in Seal Beach today and I don’t have air conditioning. Aargh.) After doing some research I settled on a North Face backpack from eBags.com with a laptop compartment and water bottle holders. I figure it’ll work well for all sorts of travel situations, from an airplane carry on (like when I go to Orlando for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon at Disney World in November) to hiking (like when I hopefully go back to Alaska next summer). So while I have a lot of respect for the old Eastpak that I am replacing, I look forward to many years of exciting travel with my new North Face backpack!